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WilsonsWesty
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2021 9:07 pm    Post subject: Dometic Fridge Questions Reply with quote

My 1980 P22 did not have the full kitchen, but I picked one up in a junkyard yesterday. In all honesty, not in the best shape, but I plan to work on it and make it work.

So, today I took the fridge out of the cabinet and set it on my work bench, cleaned it well and also blew out the water drain and the flu vent line.

I took off the ignition box cover and cleaned it and checked for spark (all good).

I hooked it up to propane with an adapter off of a small stove I had in the shop. With little effort I was able to get it to light and stay burning (killed it after 15 minutes or so).

Then I plugged it into my shops 110. I left it plugged in for about 30 minutes. All I felt was a little heat develop on the lines neat the ignition box. Felt no cooling in the fridge itself. Also, the fan never kicked on.

I checked the fuse on the front of the unit (above the flame indicator light). It looks burnt, but I am not sure . . . I also think this fuse may only be for 12V operation but I am not sure.

Now, finally my questions:

1. How long should I leave it plugged in to see if it is going to work? I am afraid of doing more harm than good.

2. How long (on gas) does it need to run to begin cooling?

3. How long should it run before the fan kicks on?

4. Is there coolant that needs recharged (sorry for being stupid here)?

Any tips, tricks or pointers would be greatly appreciated here. I have been reading other posts, and watching what videos I can find, but nothing is really answering the questions I have.

Thanks all and sorry for the long post.

Mike
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kamzcab86
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2021 9:55 pm    Post subject: Re: Dometic Fridge Questions Reply with quote

WilsonsWesty wrote:

1. How long should I leave it plugged in to see if it is going to work? I am afraid of doing more harm than good.


At least a few hours, preferably overnight.

WilsonsWesty wrote:
2. How long (on gas) does it need to run to begin cooling?


Most of these old Dometics prefer being run on 110V for awhile, then lit on gas. But, to answer the question, it'll take a few hours to see the temperature drop (quicker if the ambient temp is low). Be sure the door is in place while it's running.

WilsonsWesty wrote:
3. How long should it run before the fan kicks on?


That's dependent upon the fan's temperature switch, which is mounted to the cooling fins on the back of the fridge, at the top. It'll probably take longer for the fan to turn on being outside of the van; when installed, heat is built up quickly behind the fridge due to the tight quarters.

WilsonsWesty wrote:
4. Is there coolant that needs recharged (sorry for being stupid here)?


It's an ammonia absorption fridge. Unless there is a leak, there shouldn't be a need for a "recharge". Here's a document on how these types of fridges work: http://oldbluesblog.com/files/HowAbsorptionRefrigerationWorks.pdf .
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crazyvwvanman
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 4:37 am    Post subject: Re: Dometic Fridge Questions Reply with quote

The fan needs 12v DC hooked up for it to run, no matter what power source the fridge is set to.

The fridge has a 3 pin wiring connector for DC.
1 pin is constant 12v and another pin is ground for 12v.
Without those hooked properly to a 12v source the fan won't work.

Mark
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WilsonsWesty
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 5:00 am    Post subject: Re: Dometic Fridge Questions Reply with quote

crazyvwvanman wrote:

Without those hooked properly to a 12v source the fan won't work.


That is good to know. I suppose I will save that test/task/repair for the final stages. Thanks.
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WilsonsWesty
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 5:06 am    Post subject: Re: Dometic Fridge Questions Reply with quote

kamzcab86 wrote:
WilsonsWesty wrote:

1. How long should I leave it plugged in to see if it is going to work? I am afraid of doing more harm than good.


At least a few hours, preferably overnight.

WilsonsWesty wrote:
2. How long (on gas) does it need to run to begin cooling?


Most of these old Dometics prefer being run on 110V for awhile, then lit on gas. But, to answer the question, it'll take a few hours to see the temperature drop (quicker if the ambient temp is low). Be sure the door is in place while it's running.

WilsonsWesty wrote:
3. How long should it run before the fan kicks on?


That's dependent upon the fan's temperature switch, which is mounted to the cooling fins on the back of the fridge, at the top. It'll probably take longer for the fan to turn on being outside of the van; when installed, heat is built up quickly behind the fridge due to the tight quarters.

WilsonsWesty wrote:
4. Is there coolant that needs recharged (sorry for being stupid here)?


It's an ammonia absorption fridge. Unless there is a leak, there shouldn't be a need for a "recharge". Here's a document on how these types of fridges work: http://oldbluesblog.com/files/HowAbsorptionRefrigerationWorks.pdf .


Thanks for all those answers. My thought is there is little that can go wrong on these. Going to check out that link you sent me. I will plug it in this morning (with the door taped on) and give a few hours on 110V and see what happens.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 6:15 am    Post subject: Re: Dometic Fridge Questions Reply with quote

There is a theory, that letting the fridge stand upside down over night helps the ammonia cooling system. I don't know the exact details to explain why this helps.

It's definitely not like a conventional compressor fridge. There really is no sense that it is working at first other than the pilot light viewed through the site glass in the bottom rear left corner.

We refrigerate all food the night before we leave in the house. At the same time we plug the 110 in and operate the fridge on 110 over night. Next am, we pack the fridge with the pre cooled items and then light the propane. At that point, it does feel cool in the fridge.

We leave it on propane continuously unless we happen to camp with free power. Then we turn the fridge back on 110 to conserve some propane but to also charge our batteries.

We are overall happy with the Dometic even though they get a bad rap here by many. Its not uncommon over a couple weeks use for ice to build up on the cooling fins requiring defrosting.
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WilsonsWesty
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 6:20 am    Post subject: Re: Dometic Fridge Questions Reply with quote

MarkWard wrote:
There is a theory, that letting the fridge stand upside down over night helps the ammonia cooling system. I don't know the exact details to explain why this helps.


Interesting . . .

I am in love with the idea of the Dometic. Simple and to the point. Granted, I am sure newer technology out chills the Dometic, but the idea of having a fridge without power is very enticing to me.

The one I found is not in the best shape, but I hope with a little TLC, she will come back to life.
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cmayna
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 8:00 am    Post subject: Re: Dometic Fridge Questions Reply with quote

You might consider getting a battery powered wireless thermometer so you can watch the inside temp without opening the door. Many different brands available such as AcuRite, etc.

Yes for running it on AC for 30+ minutes, then to propane. How old is the fridge? Any pics of it's control panel? Do you have a propane tank under your rig?
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 8:18 am    Post subject: Re: Dometic Fridge Questions Reply with quote

I love the thing too. Modern fridges outperform it, but they need constant +12V. If you don't need crazy cold, well this fridge works great and you can run 2 weeks on one tank of propane.

crazyvwvanman wrote:
The fan needs 12v DC hooked up for it to run, no matter what power source the fridge is set to.

The fridge has a 3 pin wiring connector for DC.
1 pin is constant 12v and another pin is ground for 12v.
Without those hooked properly to a 12v source the fan won't work.

Mark


Wilson, just pay attention to the wire colors. Hopefully you still have the diagram sticker ontop of the fridge. Otherwise find one of the manuals online (Google is your friend, also check Frank Condelli's page on the subject, there's a very detailed tutorial on maintaining the fridge, and some useful links).
Blue wire is ground for instance.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 9:24 am    Post subject: Re: Dometic Fridge Questions Reply with quote

WilsonsWesty wrote:
I hooked it up to propane with an adapter off of a small stove I had in the shop. With little effort I was able to get it to light and stay burning (killed it after 15 minutes or so).

I checked the fuse on the front of the unit (above the flame indicator light). It looks burnt, but I am not sure . . .

Any tips, tricks or pointers would be greatly appreciated here.


Your fridge is a 182 B model? Model number should be on plaque on door.

A Volt Ohm meter should show if the fuse has failed.

A cardboard tube held up against flame viewing window helps to see flame, especially on sunny camping days. Turning thermostat CW should make flame larger, CCW should make flame smaller. You should hear the thermostat "click" when flame changes size.

Neil.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 9:33 am    Post subject: Re: Dometic Fridge Questions Reply with quote

We purchased a small battery operated fan for camping fridges. It really seems to help to circulate the cool around the box. Something like this.

https://www.amazon.com/Camco-Fridge-Airator-Off-Sw...amp;sr=8-4

There are a lot of documented ways to soup these old fridges up here on the Samba.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 9:36 am    Post subject: Re: Dometic Fridge Questions Reply with quote

MarkWard wrote:
We purchased a small battery operated fan for camping fridges. It really seems to help to circulate the cool around the box.

There are a lot of documented ways to soup these old fridges up here on the Samba.


As have other folks, I installed a computer CPU fan on the cooling unit in my 182 A. This required drilling a small hole for wires though:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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DLJ
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 10:12 am    Post subject: Re: Dometic Fridge Questions Reply with quote

regarding turning unit upside, don't do it. if operated after being upside down and liquid has not had time to trickle down to its original place you can cause
damage to cooling.
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WilsonsWesty
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 10:19 am    Post subject: Re: Dometic Fridge Questions Reply with quote

cmayna wrote:
You might consider getting a battery powered wireless thermometer so you can watch the inside temp without opening the door. Many different brands available such as AcuRite, etc.

Yes for running it on AC for 30+ minutes, then to propane. How old is the fridge? Any pics of it's control panel? Do you have a propane tank under your rig?


I have added a propane tank under - mine is a P22 so it did not come with one. The fridge is an early model. I will definitely get the recommended thermometer.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 10:51 am    Post subject: Re: Dometic Fridge Questions Reply with quote

So you have a 182 A

It's possible the 12 Volt "fridge relay" is on the fridge itself.

Relay shown upper center (red wires added by me for fan switching etc):

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


A bunch more random images of 182A and 182B fridges I've owned

https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipO44D9bUtLx2p...ZNNHN3dF9B
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 11:20 am    Post subject: Re: Dometic Fridge Questions Reply with quote

DLJ wrote:
regarding turning unit upside, don't do it. if operated after being upside down and liquid has not had time to trickle down to its original place you can cause
damage to cooling.


Well, if its upside down over night, sitting another day should let trickle back. My fridge was out for over a month and was working ok. Originally removed for the cooling fan noise. Found rust etc.

Never did bench test it since it was working prior. Much improved performance over all.
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WilsonsWesty
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 3:47 pm    Post subject: Re: Dometic Fridge Questions Reply with quote

SIDE QUESTIONS:

Can anyone tell me what temperature the cooling fins (inside the fridge) should be in a perfect world when running?

I think I may have it working now - been running a couple of hours and the fins are reading abound 46 degrees so far. I plan to let it run 2 more hours and then switch it over to gas to see if it maintains temp.

Second side Question:

My van was not set up for this, but I am wanting to bench test everything to ensure that I will not have major issues down the road (after cabinet modifications).

What can I rig up (and how) to test the 12V. I have a battery on my bench, but I have no clue how to wire it up and regulate the V (if needed) to test the 12V functioning?

I guess this also is a good place to ask if there is somewhere to get the other ends of the wiring harness to allow wiring when I am ready to install?
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 8:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Dometic Fridge Questions Reply with quote

UPDATE:

First, thanks for all the advice and help. I am pretty happy with todays progress.

Here is the reading chart for today.
Inside Readings are from the cooling fins inside the fridge.
Back Readings are from the tube at the heating element.

    04:40pm: Inside 66.0 - Back 61.0
    05:50pm: Inside 45.0 - Back 123.0
    06:25pm: Inside 46.2 - Back 141.0
    08:30pm: Inside 27.9 - Back 125.0
    10:00pm: Inside 27.3 - Back 109.0
    11:00pm: Inside 29.0 - Back106.0


In the morning, I am going to switch over to gas and see how it charts over the day.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 9:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Dometic Fridge Questions Reply with quote

in about 25-30mins on propane this is what i was getting (scroll down about mid way)

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=9578110#9578110

i think they are neat. not sure about the performance but i'm going to give it a shot.

i have a couple of fans i plan to blow across the evaporator heat sink to help move some cold air around
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 11:40 pm    Post subject: Re: Dometic Fridge Questions Reply with quote

A few of us posted temp pictures from experiments in this thread, they may help you understand the beast better...
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=657892

Since the fridge cools about 35 degrees below ambient, the inside fridge temps really depend on the outside temps. I think these things work great until you hit many hours in the day about 75 degrees. A short spike to 80 degrees is fine if the morning and evenings are cool. If it's mostly 80 then they work better for just dry storage. Glad you found a working unit.
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